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We're midway through the NBA season, and many fans are still wondering what exactly went down behind the scenes that made the Cleveland Cavaliers pull the trigger and trade Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics this summer.
Now, thanks to a report from Cleveland.com, we have a better understanding of what prompted the Cavs decision. According to multiple unnamed sources, Irving threatened to sit out the season and have surgery on his knee after asking owner Dan Gilbert to trade him.
Irving reportedly needs minor surgery on his knee to ease swelling and day-to-day pain as a follow-up to the procedure he got during the NBA Finals. But instead of getting it taken care of during the offseason, sources say he threatened to skip training camp, then have the surgery during the season. This, of course, would have left the Cavs without a starting point guard, and may have convinced the organization that their rocky relationship with Irving was no longer salvageable.
With two years left on his contract with the Cavs, the impending surgery was one of the only points of leverage Irving had at the time. Neither Gilbert or Irving's representatives have commented on these reports, but if true, it could have been a deciding factor as to why Cleveland finally gave in and traded Kyrie to the Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets' 2018 first-round pick.
The Cleveland.com report also outlines the fallout of this threat, which involved LeBron James being told by the Cavs that they believed they had no choice but to trade Irving.
Of course, judging by Irving's excellent season so far, it doesn't appear that the surgery was in fact a pressing issue. He's averaging 24.5 points and 5.0 assists while shooting a career-best .477 from the field. The Celtics currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings, seven games ahead of the 27-19 Cavs.